Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holidays, community, and snow!

Here's a post from Emma Levy, one of my compadres. Happy Holidays all!

If you've been curious about grad student life at IslandWood beyond teaching and coursework, this weekend was an exceptional testament to the growing sense of community within our class. An unexpected and extended power outage that began in the middle of Child Development class on Friday afternoon and continued through the evening quickly turned a would-have-been mellow evening into a festive event. 18 of 27 grads were present for an impromptu get-together, lit by candles and suspended head lamps. Susan, our resident chef (and fellow grad) busily prepared enough tamales to feed the masses as the rest of us snacked happily on high quality appetizers. Around 8 p.m., when the electricity returned to campus, dinner disbanded and everyone dispersed to complete the day’s unfinished business—now possible with light and electronics.

Later on that night, three cars full of grads trooped down to Rockaway Beach to explore the tidal pooling and rocky beach exposed by the low tide (the first pre-midnight low tide of the winter). Under the biggest full moon of the year, backed by a striking panoramic view of Seattle, we poked around the beach, overturning rocks and seeking out likely homes for marine creatures. Being from the East Coast, I had never seen anything like purple-ish blue ochre stars or painted anemones, leaving me enthralled with this wonderland of critters and life that is usually hidden deep beneath the water.

Back at IslandWood, preparations for the next day’s celebration of “Faux Christmas Morning” were underway until late into the night. Since most of us are leaving the island for winter break, we decided (after checking on each grad’s holiday preferences) to have a mock Christmas morning, giving us a chance to share time and presents and family traditions. Clad in cheerful pajamas, we all gathered in the commons this morning bearing home-made brunch treats and Secret Santa gifts. These weren’t your typical store-bought presents: there was a song, a painting, a story, home-made books and ceramics, and a giant marshmallow duck, to name just a few. The morning wholly embodied the holiday spirit in its thoughtfulness and excitement for giving, and I think we each felt a true sense of thankfulness for each other and for the opportunity to share this year together in such an extraordinary place. The essence of holiday and community could only have been made more poignant by some small natural miracle, which came in the form of the first winter snow this evening.

-by Emma Levy

No comments: